GOVERNMENT should consider equipping the Government Printers to enable it print ballot papers locally to dispel the accusations of vote manipulation against the ruling party, the Anti-Voter Apathy Project (AVAP) has said.
And AVAP has called for the creation of an independent body that would supervise the printing of ballot papers if they were to be produced locally.
Executive director Richwell Mulwani told the Daily Nation yesterday that the ‘‘hullabaloo’’ surrounding the printing of ballot papers would only be put to rest once the material was produced locally as opposed to contracting international companies to do the job on behalf of Zambians.
Mr. Mulwani said that while the printing of ballot papers had nothing to do with the final results of an election, the perception had been created that the printing process was vulnerable to rigging which contributed to voter apathy in previous elections.
He said from the time the Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) came into power, calls to localise the printing of ballot papers have not been heeded to but noted that the agitation over the issue had led to people losing faith in the process.
“We feel that printing of ballot papers need to be done by our own institutions in Zambia. This will help us to boost voter confidence because this has been the cry of most Zambians, Civil Society Organisations and political parties.
“This means that, as a country, we should sit down after this general election and see what we can do to ensure that this contentious issue is sorted out once and for all because in some instances, it leads to voter apathy as the electorates feel the elections are predetermined.
“As such, there is no need for them to vote based on the misconception that comes with the printing of the ballot papers from outside the country,” Mr. Mulwani said.
He said it was prudent for Governmnet to also consider coming up with an autonomous institution to oversee the printing of ballot papers if the process was to be localised so that political squabbles could come to an end.
He said it was important to come up with an institution whose activities could be questioned by Zambians as opposed to contracting foreign companies to which they had no access.
“To avoid these insinuations and negative perceptions, we demand that we put in place an institution within the country that will be accountable to all of us, as citizens, so that we are able to build our own democracy because just like we have the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) which we can take to task on a number of issues. How do we go to countries like South Africa and Dubai to express our concerns?
‘‘We must manage our own institutions of governance and the printing of ballot papers is one of the key elements in the electoral process. We cannot even verify the printing of ballot papers from Dubai,” he said.